ENCINITAS — Longtime Encinitas Councilman Mark Muir is trailing challenger Jody Hubbard in his bid for a third elected term in office, and appointed incumbent Joe Mosca holds a narrow lead in his attempt at a first elected term in office over longtime Olivenhain resident Tony Brandenburg.
Both races, however, are too close to call with multiple precincts and potentially hundreds of absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted.
As of the morning of Nov. 7, Hubbard, a planning commissioner, leads Muir 52.96 percent to 46.83 percent of the votes in District 3, which is composed of Cardiff-by-the-Sea and a sliver of New Encinitas.
Mosca holds a more tenuous lead of 103 votes over Brandenburg, 50.89 percent to 48.76 percent respectively, in the race for Encinitas District 4, which covers Olivenhain, Village Park and other New Encinitas neighborhoods.
If the results hold, it would be a sweep for the trio of Hubbard, Mosca and Mayor Catherine Blakespear, who supported each other’s campaigns.
It would also mean the end of Muir’s seven-year term on the council. Appointed in 2011 to fill the seat of the late Maggie Houlihan, voters re-elected Muir in 2012 and 2016. When the city voted to opt to by-district elections, however, they put Muir’s district up for re-election two years earlier than he would have been in the at-large system.
Muir, while not conceding, thanked his supporters and reflected on his lengthy career in public service, which included stints as the fire chief of Del Mar and Encinitas.
“I am honored to have been able to be the fire chief and work for 35 years in public safety and seven years on the council,” Muir said. “I hope to continue to be involved in the community as a community organizer.”
Muir, who lives in the small New Encinitas portion of his district, said the boundaries made the race tough despite being the incumbent.
“Not only was I on the boundary of the district, I was on the boundary of a finger of a district, and I’m not a Cardiffian,” Muir said. “It was less about me versus Jody (Hubbard) as much as it was me versus Catherine (Blakespear), because this is her district. The boundaries made a huge difference.”
Hubbard on election night said she thanked Muir for his service. She believes her campaign strategy, which eschewed traditional promotional methods such as prominently displayed campaign signs for an aggressive precinct walking and get out the vote strategy, helped her get the early lead.
“I worked really hard, it was a long five months, and I felt like I left everything on the table,” Hubbard said.
Mosca, appointed in 2017 to fill out Blakespear’s term when she was elected mayor, was the subject of a fierce opposition effort funded largely by a political action committee called Public Safety Advocates.
The group, which received a $17,000 contribution from one of the chief opponents of the North Coast Highway 101 Streetscape, sent out several attack mailers characterizing Mosca, who was previous a councilman in the Los Angeles suburb Sierra Madre, as a carpetbagger.
Mosca said that he believes the results, if they hold, show voters were not swayed by the accusations.
“I think it shows that voters are tired of the negative attacks and they want to see what your plan and your ideas are, not just attacks on your opponent,” Mosca said.
Brandenburg said he is holding out hope that he can gain more ground on Mosca in the absentee and provisional ballot count.
“We ran an open, honest race with nothing but the truth as our guide,” Brandenburg said. “I really don’t know which or how man Encinitas votes remain but hope springs eternal.”